Spring and autumn are by far my favourite times of year for travelling as I think it’s easier to get a grip of the authentic life in the places you visit. And one of the cities said to be at the most beautiful in spring is Paris. And who better to guide us through Paris in Spring than photographer Georgianna Lane, who has visited the City of Lights countless times, capturing it in bloom in all its beauty, bursting with life and its unique charm? I am a great admirer of Georgianna’s work. As I have previously stated, she imprints a little bit of magic in her photography and she has the ability to make you feel it too. You can almost smell those cherry blossoms… I am very pleased that she has kindly accepted to take us on the dreamiest tour of Paris.
Is it true that Paris is the most beautiful in spring?
I would say that’s probably true. Most any city is beautiful in spring, but in Paris seeing the parks and gardens come to life against the beautiful architecture is really a special experience. Probably the most impressive sight is the magnificent and huge cherry tree in the Jardin des Plantes that blooms in early April.
Given your passion for flower photography, I have the feeling you know your way around the Parisian gardens. What shouldn’t one miss?
Each garden in Paris has its own character and I enjoy them for different reasons. The most peaceful and relaxing is Jardin du Luxembourg. It’s vast size creates such a calming atmosphere. I love The Tulieries for the beautiful views of The Louvre and Musée d’Orsay and for the colorful flower beds that are regularly refreshed with bright annuals. But my two favorite gardens, because they have wonderful rose collections, are Jardin du Palais Royal and Musée Rodin. In mid to late May, they are at their peak and glorious.
Describe your idea of a perfect spring day in Paris:
Well, first, of course, the sun should be shining! April weather in Paris is very changeable but May is more predictably pleasant and can even be hot. So with perfect weather in place, the rest of the day would include coffee and a croissant, an early morning walk through a park followed by a light lunch in a favorite cafe, then perhaps shopping at an open air market and an evening picnic and walk along the river. Unless the weather is quite miserable, I spend most of my days in Paris outdoors, saving museum and gallery visits for winter. Each day I walk many miles without even noticing because there are so many fascinating and beautiful things to see.
What is your one favourite thing to do in Paris every time you visit?
I take a walk along the river on Île Saint-Louis, followed by a hot chèvre salad at Cafe St. Regis. If it’s warm, an ice cream at Berthillion is a must. But each trip I also visit the Palais Royal. I love the architecture, garden and peacefulness there.
When in Paris, you never get tired of photographing:
Doors and flower shops. Can’t pass them by!
What is a photogapher’s dream in Paris?
That depends on the subjects that interest you most. Truly architecture is a never-ending fascination but anywhere you look there are wonderful, classic scenes: cafes, markets, gardens, grand boulevards, magnificent buildings and the best people watching.
When in Paris, early mornings are best for:
Walking, when the streets are quiet and you feel as if you have Paris to yourself. It’s a thrilling feeling – that Paris is putting on this fabulous show just for you.
How do you get around Paris?
As I mentioned, I walk quite a lot, many miles each day. But I am also a huge fan of the Mètro. I buy bulk discount tickets and use it all the time. To be honest, I’m not that fond of Parisian taxi drivers and a cab ride across Paris can take a long time and be expensive. However, I know that by hopping on the Mètro, I can be all the way across the city in about 20 minutes. I really love it. A bonus is to come up the steps and see what beautiful style of Mètro sign is at that particular station. Of course, the Mètro can get very crowded in summer, but I generally avoid traveling in Europe in July and August anyway.
Where do you go when you want to feel like a Parisian and not a tourist?
Lately I have been staying in the 7th arrondissement and I have grown to really enjoy it. It is a more residential neighborhood, definitely off the tourist track, except right around the Eiffel Tower, and very quiet at night. I enjoy going to the market, boulangerie and other shops and mingling with elegant, well-dressed Parisians going about their daily routines. I’ve gotten to know the flower shops, cafes and street markets.
And what is one touristy place you never get tired of every time you are in town?
Dame and Île de la Cité and of course, the Eiffel Tower. You just have to! The energy is invigorating around the Eiffel Tower and it’s fun to see all the tourists visiting for the first time, taking photos and generally being pretty excited about being there and making special memories.
What’s the most important thing Paris has taught you?
To be more observant, to take the time to explore and learn about my surroundings. Paris has also inspired me creatively in many ways. The sheer magnitude of the incredible detail and care that was taken to create it is so impressive.
What differentiates the Parisiennes from the American women?
Besides an innate sense of style and fashion, Parisienne women take great care and pride in their appearance, always. I can easily tell a Paris native from a tourist. In Paris, one would never dream of popping out to the shops in sweatpants or sloppy clothes. In the States, most people wouldn’t think twice about doing that. I pay much more attention to my appearance in Paris and that makes me feel good, more refined and like I am at my best. I find it puts a spring in my step and gives me more confidence.
What makes you return to Paris?
Paris is stimulating in unique ways to an artist. It has for centuries been a catalyst of creativity for anyone involved in the arts. It is constantly interesting and reveals more and more as you become intimately familiar with it. And of course, there are hundreds of doors I haven’t yet photographed!
photos: courtesy of Georgianna Lane